Otto by Wolfgang Carstens

was one of the toughest
i’ve ever known.

he joined the German army
when he was fourteen,
fought on the front lines
at Stalingrad,

and despite poor clothing,
no provisions,
and the harsh Russian winter,
he never surrendered.

Otto was tough,
but tobacco was tougher.

even as cancer
ate away one hundred forty-five pounds
of solid muscle,
he kicked the shit
out of three healthy men
who’d dishonored his wife.

the last time i saw him
he was alone in his dark study
wearing his smoking jacket and cravat,
with a White Owl cigar
smoldering between his teeth

and that solitary tear
running down his cheek
told me all there was to know
about being tough

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

ice water and a body bag

standing on the corner
of ingersoll
and 31st
leaning against
a fire hydrant
you conduct
a census:



straight into
thin air
like a cat fart.

two pitchers of bud light
six shots of jameson
an indeterminate fog
of butterscotch shots
with some flab bag
who took you home
and whose apartment
you now walk home from -

- lumbering
and heavy
like an
elephant trunk.

three months of sobriety
down the drain
quick as a brick
into a wishing well.

sobriety was sustainable
but there was
something false
it dried up center
like a patch
of brown grass.

there's gotta be
middle ground
a switzerland
somewhere in your mind
to plant a flag

some island
between ice water
and a body bag.

you cipher it
right there
as a city bus
passes you
and you puke
into an evergreen bush
in front of a
dentist office:

twice a week max
put a twenty in your wallet
leave the debit card at home
a couple pitchers
nice and easy
bend the mind a little
let it dip into your heart.

this is
the mindfuck
the drunk
parlays on himself.

what's news
young man?
asks a fogey
ticking down
the sidewalk
with a four prong cane.

on a budget,
you mumble
penduling on.

the reading public

i read a-lot
mostly dean koontz,
says the middle aged homo
who works the cash register
at the grocery store cafe.

he's taking
a coffee break
with one of the waitresses
in the booth beside me.

she says she
loves twilight
reads them over
and over
didn't like the second one
but it's still better
than the movie.

most people read
for the same reason
they watch tv:

a facile means
of tickling
their banal impulse:

a little candle
of cheap smut
to warm the
bowl of cold oatmeal
between their ears.

give them schopenhauer's manifesto
a novel by celine
or a book of stories by chekhov

something that draws
real blood
cutting into the guts
of the machine

give them a
book of letters
from bukowski or nietzsche

or a biography
of thomas jefferson.

they'd furrow
their brow
like a donkey with gas

and toss it
into the garbage
after seven
and a half pages.

reclamation project by Justin Hyde

take the drunk
from the bottle

he is left
with the heavy machinery
of his mind
hanging from a rope
like a busted tractor engine
in a barn.

he stands
at a distance

the strange contraption

coming through the windows
for the first time in years

frightens him

My Last Thanksgiving by Catfish McDaris

My lady was withdrawing
$60 from the drive up ATM
I was tuning in Steely Dan

A Nixon masked person
with a revved chainsaw
cut off her extended arm
& grabbed it & the money

Ripping my belt from my
trousers, I made a tourniquet
next thing I knew I was on
the floor in a store

A circle of frozen turkeys
were shooting dice with tiny
hands, several had cigars
puffing from their neck hole

They were cursing in Turkish,
sounding pissed off & flipping
each other the bird, looking
around I noticed I was naked

I had a cell phone, I dialed 911
the operator asked, "What is
your emergency?" all I said
was gobble gobble gobble

Waking in a pool of sweat
I saw a full bottle of 101
proof whiskey, reaching

To scratch my testicles
I trotted for the bathroom
to discover two tiny plucked
butter balls, I thought this
is worse than Naked Lunch.

these thick girls by Steve Calamars

have me sleep walking
across tight ropes and
base jumping from their
high expectations
without a parachute

their plunging necklines
and cartoon cleavage
leave me feeling
light headed and animated

to the point where i'm
making assumptions and
drawing conclusions
without a trace of evidence

believing they'll find their
way to my bedroom and lose
their panties beneath
my sheets

only to discover later
that i had their signals crossed
and i'm bound to end up alone
for the night

with my mind in knots
and my heart hanging
in my chest like a
fleshy chandelier . . .

50/50 SPLIT by John Tustin

Your words grind me down
the anabolic sameness of them,
like tires slowly
decimating the street.

You are disappointing
like the blackheads on my nose
in every morning mirror.

And now you are nothing more
than mosquitoes in the night
that are not worth
turning on the light
and searching for
to kill.

But you wrote this
and many others
with your filthy mouth
and abhorrent actions –
I just put them down –
so I guess I owe you something.

Just not half.

Two Poems by David McLean

thought gets tainted

thought gets tainted by the darkness,
like Pearl Jam say, and what you see
is determined by your capacity
for seeing, what lives free in front of us
and each shard of shattered nothing
that is there for us to touch;

and i would rather die than be a dead man
living his weakness, his pride and his stupid
weak children

thought gets tainted easily, except
where whales swim in us fragments
of nature, something at any rate
untouched, some body better
than man to love

a gross bundle

life in the too filthy flesh
is a gross bundle of rags
and stupid illusions,

a lump of psychic ugly,
a hairy monkey gibbering
under a dead man's bed

and up the staircase goes love
a reluctant foot, broken bones
and radical homelessness

wherever we are, lumpy
little bundles of fat flesh, death,
whitening scars,

life has wandered much too far

Going Dutch by Catfish McDaris

Her loved waned,
like snow on a
warm winter day

I didn't know
what to do,
so I went to
a whorehouse

A young woman
led me to her room

She removed her
clothes & I started
crying, she took a
knife & cut off my ear

I felt a sudden urge
to paint sunflowers.

Her Vagina Looks Like by April Michelle Bratten

Her vagina looks like
a giant inflamed mushroom,
swollen and offensive,

or the greasy insides of a pumpkin,
the guts, sticky orange stuck
to walls of fleshy white.

Her vagina will never smell like
wet-sweet earth, no,
because it has large protrusions,
little heads peeking,
millions of mouths gabbing,
dribbling their pus.

Her vagina reeks like
bottom of dead foot,
a rotting, rotting,
old and haggard piece.

Fatty-fat, it still talks.

It tries to force open
from its swell,
that willing thing.

It puffs up, irritated
to scratch me like a rope
and berate my smooth.

I tell you, leave,
leave my hawk-eyes!
Leave me, leave me,

for you have turned stupid
and inconsolable.

No more of your stiff scratch,
I want the silk-silky majesty of your leave,

you awful tack!

Happy Birthday Leah by Melanie Browne

I don't think
we have anything
in common

the fact is,
I don't even
know who the
hell you are

but you must be
pretty special

You're so special
someone wrote
Happy Birthday Leah!
on the back of your
car with white shoe

It makes me want
to find a filthy
and hurl the rest of my
Big-Mac into the

Leah I hate you so
much, I hope a bird shits
on your new
designer handbag

herein lies the difference by Rob Plath

i lean my forearms on the rickety card-table
the table which upon i write for long hours
& gaze long & hard at my own limbs
i inherited the forearms of my father
hairy leg-breaking forearms of a german gangster
but strangely they taper into thin wrists
unlike my father's thick handcuff-rough wrists
& screwed on to the ends are soft palmed hands w/long fingers
unlike my father's big meaty pistol whipping hands
i swivel them, wiggling the thin digits
how they were made for the keys, the abc's, for creation
unlike my father's made for the trigger, breaking things, unmaking things

Waiting for Poems by Donal Mahoney

Sometimes you sit for days
sucking yourself in
praying the right words
will fall in your ear
toboggan over the whorls
pierce the canal
and settle in your brain,
an embryonic delight.
Sometimes you sit for days
and finally the words come
and they're always a surprise
like the first tulip in April
or a sudden
orgasm for your wife.

FAME by Mike Meraz

this guy in New Orleans
who chopped up his girlfriend
is now on the cover of the Gambit Weekly.
killing is a way to fame
and so is being killed
but before you are killed
you have to have some talent
or die in a totally gruesome way
there is no room for beginners here.

Reading Proust by Paul Hellweg

Proust commented on
the anesthetic effect of habit
almost one hundred years
before I read his words.
I understand the wisdom
of which he speaks,
but his words are meant for other people,
ones whose lives are ordinary and staid,
not for poets, not for anyone
in touch with the great absence.

DANGLING by Stephanie Smith

When I look at people
I see only their genitals
dangling like gold earrings
on sagging lobes
Ears they cannot hear from
because their egos are too large
it smothers their senses

When I look at people
I see only the sexes
split in two
in such a disgusting display
of division
and derision
it makes me want to puke

Two Poems by Ross Vassilev

angels of mercy, angels of light

I remember
the dust of 9/11
in the blue Indian sky
over Manhattan
where hippies
and Yippies are still
putting flowers
in the guns of
American soldiers
where Diana Oughton
is still making bombs
in her top-floor
Greenwich flat and
suicide bombers
still wait in vain
for their 72 virgins
I used to live in
that place
full of the homeless
and the insane
a place that chews up
your soul
and spits it out
for dogs to
crap on
so did I cry on 9/11
like everyone
the answer to that
is no.

the eagle has landed

death of the spirit as
a dove falls from the sky;
think of death
as a killer clown like
John Wayne Gacy
or Ronald Reagan;
Ronnie, I jerked off to
your daughter Patti
when I saw her
on the cover of Playboy
with some black guy
grabbing her tits
from behind; it didn't
take away from all
the carnage of
your dirty wars in
Central America but
it was something;
Ronnie, you were
Maggie Thatcher minus
the mustache; and when
I think of death
I think of you and
your big phony grin
like a Nazi death-head
with moussed hair.

Lost Garden by Jonathan Butcher

Under the garden porch light, we speak in
hushed tones of it’s eventual arrival, as we pass the
bottle back and forth under the radio’s white hiss.

Overlooking the outstretched lawn, dotted with soiled
tables the garage on our left, drenched in mothering ivy
a green veined pandemic, crawling towards the midnight

The dogs demand feeding, like lost children, much to
our annoyance, the peace disrupted by this brief responsibility
whose shadow we hope to evade a little while longer.

Even in this dark it finds it’s way, hurtling towards us, through
what we consider the remaining years, and still remains
green and light through all seasons.

Walking Down Prospect St by Diana Rose

Walking down Prospect St
Lifting my cheeks to flowing raindrops
The deep melodic tone beating off of railroad tracks
I breathe deep, soaked to skin
So happy to be alive.

Mexican couple carrying
plastic bags of groceries
enough for tonights dinner
laugh as they pass
the wife balances a flat of eggs in one hand
smacks her husbands ass with the other.
Simplicity is the root of all happiness.

Lillac trees sway
to the breeze of speeding cars
Puddles splash up on
my soaked shoes as they squish squish squish
like a Kerouac haiku.
Funny the crazy looks you get
walking through afternoon rain.

Like the smile I got from you

Two Poems by Gary Beck

The Nature of Cities II

The city of excess
produces waste,
pollutes the landscape,
poisons the waters, the air,
deludes us from awareness,
distracts us from action
diverts us with culture,
until sated citizens
perish from enrichment.

Images of Despair

War veterans
with artificial limbs
waiting in line
at a soup kitchen.

A homeless child
with running nose,
diseased eyes,
tattered jacket,
begging for change
on a winter street.

A bag lady
with filthy grey hair,
bedecked in rags,
rummaging in the trash can
for the evening repast.

London, Paris, Rome,
ancient cities,
these sights we expect,
but approved misery
is a painful surprise
in New York City.

Pussy and Wine by Maria Gornell

I read you last night – nodded throughout
in that assimilation of resonance.

I still drank (the wine) tonight
barely concerned by inches of cock
or trips to ‘hit that’

Honestly? There isn’t one man within
a 100 mile radius I would bother
dropping by reserve for.

But the wine do make me open
laid bare emotion – hungering
for an intimacy I crave with
every fibre of my being.

I don’t do the date lines
webcams or chat shit
it all feels too, souless

But sometimes I have been known
to send a message in haste

Expose my vulnerability
tell all the world that I am
lying here pathetic
woman, pussy wet
without a hope in hell

It will be satisfied.

And so I scream to the moon
to every man (god) in sight

This cunt is not dead yet.

The Blues by LD Wilkinson

so hard living
in suburbia
where tranquillity
comes out
of the trees
and out
of the birds
and the hosepipes
and dribbles
down the street
under ice-cream vans
and into
clean gutters
where even the shit
shines like diamonds

so hard listening
to my neighbour
telling me
you’ve really got to
get rid of that clover

pointing at the stuff
as if clover
is the new black

so I walk
into the city
and find
the smallest darkest
loudest pub
and buy the most
overpriced whisky
and sit
and tap my foot
to the blues
and wonder
what the hell
I’m going to do
about the clover

Me, William Wantling and a Police Cell by Joseph Ridgwell

When the cell door slammed shut
I was remarkably sober
I’d been through the same situation many times
A night in the cells was unpleasant, but not unendurable
It hadn’t happened in a while though
My girl called the cops after I’d threatened to break her legs
And half-strength strangled her in the bathtub
Mind you she’d tried to rip my balls off
So in the circumstances
I figured it was a reasonable reaction
Once inside the station
It was the same old scene
Fingerprints, mug shot, DNA swab
I followed instructions in muted fashion
Having a bit of trouble with the thumb print,
Turning the wrong way and shit
My belongings were placed into a sealed bag
Belt and shoelaces included
But somehow the cops missed a copy of William Wantling’s
The Fix
Stuck under my arm
And when the heavy door cell slammed shut
It was still stuck under my arm
I glanced around the barren box and reflected on things
It was 3.30AM, the cell was cold, and I was aching all over
But at least I had Wantling
A minor victory in a night gone wrong
I stretched out on the hard bed, flicked open the book, and read a poem at random

……Dreams are cages within which we observe the cages without…………

In the cell next door
Some freak banging his head against the wall
And a disembodied voice
Screaming the incarcerated scream
It was a little unsettling, and distracted from the Wantling
Eventually I put the book down
Fished through my pockets
Found a five pence piece
Carved the name Annie
On that cell door
And waited for the unforgiving dawn

Soul-Mate by Justin Hyde

steve tells me
he finally got
been looking at
big titties
all day long
but what he really wants
is a soul-mate.

i tell him
he should
put a profile
on one of those
dating sites.

tried i
tried but
you need email
ain't got
no clue
how the hell
you get email,
he says
banging his left hand
on the bar

it's cramped up
into a
claw again

something about
lead poisoning
he got
twenty years ago
in a
sardine factory.

i get a pen
from the bartender
write on it.

it's simple
i tell him.

now i'm
cooking with
he says
leaving me
a handful of drink tickets
video poker.

it never ends

this lifetime

a hole.

DISCONNECTED #7 by Gillian Prew

The asphyxia of this enemy,
this petrified trouble,
knocking for medicine in the exiled crevices –
the mourning ducts and their art tearing
at the science of discomfort. It is futile,

these lost lungs,
compressed by apprehensive bars -
with the volition of a bird,
the rage of incarcerated madmen.

It is wrong to wrench the poetry from them
when it leaks already
a subjugated storm. I

use my heart as a cudgel,
accessing the criminal in the bone. These small deaths
enough to make me lay down my life
and wish to be a poet;

a dedicated lover
that bears no witness to ego, that sloughs
the skin like a sacrifice, that sheds the dry despair
of streets filled with throes of juddering fish.

BECAUSE WE BREATHE by Stephanie Smith

We must submit

We must get up
to the morning rush,
get dressed,
and wash the faces
we reluctantly wear each day,
succumb to the loneliness
awaiting us,
which strangles us
so we can’t speak
how we really feel,
but only put on heirs

We must work each day
at a job we loathe,
come home to the family
we’re forced to love,
retreat into dreams that tease
and repeat

all because we breathe

on knowing the queen of the sanitation department by John Grochalski

look at this, she says
slapping down the daily news
in front of me

it is a picture of a dead woman
being taken out of her house on a stretcher

the neighbors are loitering around
taking photographs with their cell phones

disgusting, isn’t it? she asks

typical, i say
standard human behavior

no, she says
people have gotten worse
society has gotten worse
it’s these cell phones
and this technology
air conditioners and reality tv
the internet and all of those damned video games

people don’t care, she says
not like they used to

people have never cared, i tell her
you have us confused with another kind of animal

people did care
they did once in this country, she says

people had respect and pride
we had a sense of community in this city

but not now

people are disgusting to each other here
and in the world at large, she says

just yesterday i saw a woman walk outside
and dump garbage all over the street
even though there was a garbage can
a half a block down

i asked her what she thought she was doing
dumping that shit all over
and do you know what she said to me?
she asks


this bitch says
what’re you? queen of the sanitation department?

and what did you say?

i said, yeah, i’m the queen of the
fucking sanitation department
you bet your ass i am
and if you don’t pick that garbage up
i’m going to grab you by the neck
and ram it down your fucking throat

i swear, she says
people just can’t be kind and considerate

Two Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Only Crayon in the Crayon Box
That Ever Scared the Hell
Out of Me

The red lights in the church basement
at night
were always sinister.

My parents would have the radio on
in the front seat
and (seemingly) not take notice
as I watched the Grace United Church basement
at the corner of Cook St.
and Dunlop
light up an ominous funery red
as if the fires of hell had been released
on the world
while no one was looking
and the four horses of the apocalypse rode closer
and closer
while Connie Francis sang about the boys
somewhere above the commercial band.

I imagined wild thirsting orgies
where men in black robes
drank the blood of sacrificed virgins
and sodomized their lifeless bodies
to Gregorian chants
and pentagrams etched into the floor
or severed heads on sticks
with the mouths sewn shut
leaning against a wall run red
with blood.
I may be projecting such images
on the past
with hindsight
(or perhaps not),
but I assure you
my blind fear of that searing basement red
was both sincere
and palpable.

Imagine my terror
when my mother took me
to join the congregation
one Sunday
when she was going through her pious
give thanks
body of Christ
Noah with water wings
collection plate absolution

The only bathroom was in the basement
and I really had to go.

While Saul
turned into Paul
from the pulpit,
I turned water
into urine
all over the pew.

And as my mother lead me out
of there
a resounding chorus of Hallelujah ran out
from the congregation.

unbeknownst to my mother,
praised the good lord
in song
by day,

and dismembered stillborn babies
over a basement altar
in the evening.


I never understood why TV programs
that try to hit you up for money
are always on at 3:30am
trying to catch the stoned
welfare crowd.
Or do they imagine the Fortune 500
is looking to open its purse strings
to late night programming
and the middle-classes decided
they no longer need sleep
before work?

If this is their hope
they’ll be sorely disappointed.

If you’re like me
and you’re sitting up at 3:30am this morning
you likely spent your last 30 bucks
on mushrooms and beer
and can’t stop laughing
at the starving kids
in Africa.

No Adjectives by Mark Reep

In the bathroom a redhaired girl sat hunched on the toilet with her
face in her hands. She stirred and said you get it? I said sorry, no.
You okay? She looked up, blinked. Fuck are you? I shook my head.
Nobody you’ll remember, I said. I was closing the door when she said
hey, something’s wrong with my legs. She stood swaying, trying to
button her jeans. Lean on the sink, I said, it’ll pass. No, she
said, my legs. Her eyes glazed. She crumpled. I caught her, picked
her up. She wasn’t heavy. Don’t throw up on me, kid, I said. Her
head rolled and she didn’t hear me. I turned sideways so her feet
wouldn’t hit the doorframe and carried her down the hall. Her arm
dangled. A tattoo said No Adjectives. In a bedroom where I’d stayed
once I propped her up against the headboard. No one should die
choking on their own puke. The lamp on the nightstand didn’t work
anymore but yellow streetlight shone in the window. When my eyes
adjusted I watched her breathing. Sometimes she’d stop, sometimes you
couldn’t tell. The room was stuffy and the window wouldn’t open and I
needed to piss but I didn’t want to leave her. Across the alley a boy
sat on a fire escape talking on a cellphone and smoking. Downstairs a
door slammed. Cars started. Basslines thumped. When they faded the
house was quieter but sometimes you could still hear someone laughing.
I wondered whose room this was now, who slept here. The girl
whimpered. She’d slumped sideways. I sat beside her and straightened
her up again. She turned her face into my shoulder. You want to call
somebody? I said. She might have shaken her head. She was crying. I
put my arms around her and patted her. Across the alley the boy’s
cigarette flared. He flicked it away and closed his phone and rose
and climbed in the window. The light went out. The girl made a
choked sound and sat up and vomited. Sour whiskey puke stink filled
the room. She fell back groaning. It’s okay, I said. I’ll get some
water, we’ll get you cleaned up. She moaned, flung an arm across me.
Kid, I said, I gotta piss. She murmured something. What? I said.
She was snoring. I moved her arm aside and got up. The bathroom door
was shut. I knocked. Occupied, a boy said. A girl giggled. I went
downstairs. No one was in the kitchen. The back door was open and I
pissed off the stoop. When I was done I dabbed puke from my pants and
rinsed my shirt out in the sink. A cellphone on the table played
Crazy Train. No one came to answer. It stopped. I wrung out my
shirt and hung it from my belt and took a Molson’s from the fridge.
Upstairs somebody said what the fuck. The phone was almost fully
charged. I put it in my pocket and went out.

Idiots On Parade by Rose Aiello Morales

Everywhere I looked

Standing at the bus stop
with transient grins, plugged
in to nothing in particular
and thinking it important,
speaking in tongues to the air
and the crackling static.

Mumbling in the movie theater,
talking dialog from different films
and yelling out the endings
of the coming attractions, all
the while throwing popcorn
from the lower balconies.

Museums were over run, crayoned
signatures on masterpieces, mustache
on Mona, fig leaf on David, beer bottles
at the Last Supper, Timexes sharing space
with the melting clocks of Dahli.

And in the streets the martyrs were trampled
in the rush for fire sales at Filene's Basement,
free lattes at Starbucks, GaGa sitings in Times
square, the return of Elvis to his Graceland home.

I saw and went suddenly insane

Obsessed with idiots on parade, screaming
news of Lindsay Lohan and the Big Brother finale;
until kind hands helped me with my (strait) jacket
and brought me safely to my beautiful new home

Where I could talk to the rest of the Intelligentsia.

Two Poems by John Grey


Dan’s lived half his life in jail,
in darkness, even when sunlight shines
through the bars or the overhead bulb
cranks out its miserly imitation of a streetlamp.
He has a watch for company.
It not only tells time, it is time.

Dan’s father comes to see him,
feeble though he is these days.
Fifty years of working down the mine
stares in at twenty more of
no way is that kind of life for me.
A guard watches over the bodies
but no one looks on when contradictions face off.

Dan remembers cheap Christmases,
scrawny birthdays, evening meals
with too little food, too many hands.
Mixed in are solitary house-breaks,
jimmying open windows,
standing in a stranger’s parlor,
overwhelmed by all the gifts.
And gas station heists,
the gun in the face of that liquor store clerk,
two hundred grubby bucks spilling from his hands
like it was a shiny million.

His father shrugs his shoulders,
wonders where did he go wrong.
Dan can never figure why he keeps on getting caught.
The world wants him down the mine,
is that it.
It’d rather he have a large family
that he can barely provide for.
It wants him to have the next Dan,
the one who finally uses that weapon
on some trembling store clerk.
It wants the life inside
passed down through the generations.
It wants his light to shine down on sons
and sons of sons.
And for everyone to have a watch,
to tell time, to do time.


Out of the corner
of my eye, that border
between my body
and what threatens it

I saw something
through the border
of dark and light,

a man
maybe his bad
bordering his worse,
who was shuffling toward me
across the border of
walk into intent.

“You want something?”
I said, my tongue tip-toeing
the border of bravado and fear.

In English broken by
being on the border of Spanish,
he handed me my wallet,
explained, “You dropped this.”

I leaped across that
border of relief into gratitude.
We shook hands,
a friendly greeting
of two border policemen.
With unforced smiles,
we let each other cross.

The Story of Us by P.A.Levy

I’m the kind of person who would have gone to a public
witch burning to find out what kind of kindling was hip,
you would have gone to public hangings to see if the guilty
jerk and spasm, piss themselves; puddle or spray?

Yes, it’s true, I would superglue a pound coin
to the pavement and find enjoyment watching a chancer
casually try to pick it up, but you would drop
a fifty ton weight. The coin was bait.
You watched far too many cartoons
when you should have been studying for your GCSEs.

I might go to the scene of a car crash only to collect
the shattered pieces of red and amber glass
for my mosaic. You would want copies of police
photographs, hunt for blood stains
and gather up bits of limbs.

When we played cut and paste in the library
I thought it a laugh
to slash out the odd paragraph, or write coded messages
on page one hundred and sixty three. Never content,
you spliced pages from hardcore porno into large
print editions of romantic fiction. You even assassinated
the final pages from the who-done-its.
Snip. Snip.

I hate you.

I hate you because you told that priest he smelt
like a peadophile and we spent all those years
in purgatory. And because you stood up in school assembly
and blurted out that the headmaster wears frilly lingerie,
swore blind you had seen him in the gym mistress’s PE kit,
we got two months detention; thanks for that.

I hate you for telling every foreman on every job
to get stuffed and then for looking befuddled
as to why we always get the sack, that you always pick
arguments with biggest blokes in pubs, and because you tell
every woman that we meet they look like tarts.
Then have the nerve to ask how much a blow job costs.

On a radio phone-in you told
the nation I’m a habitual masturbator,
knicker sniffer, pussycat fiddler,
you just had to give out my real name
and where I live.
It seems this compulsion to humiliate
is all the motivation you really need.

I hate that you are there for the thick
but never the thin.
That I can’t get the better of you,
I can never win.
Charged with insincerity
and feigning compunction
without due care and attention
I stand accused
whilst you sit back and grin.

Two Poems by Ross Vassilev

love song

I should get a job
become a productive citizen
and salute the flag

I should buy that calendar
with Marilyn Monroe
showing her tits

Marilyn, you're a cum-stain
on the red red rose
of my heart

I should write love letters
to Joely Richardson
and Tuesday Weld

I should write my name
in the hallowed ashes
of d.a. levy in Cleveland

I should write pornography
on the skulls of the raging
American war machine

I should write to old Tim Leary
guru of the tripping stars
in the 7 seas of Buddha

I should write to Pete Seeger
who performed at
Obama's inauguration

democracy in this country
is a goddam lie

Obama ain't no different
from the rest of them
ain't no hope

just ask the asphodels
that shrink away
from the bastard in horror.

the ballad of Ian Curtis

suicide clouds
make me think
of ducklings and
red beach balls

I open the closet
and there's Ian
hanging from the rod

a hanged man
is a lead balloon
turning blue

it's a lazy, quiet day

as a punk rock sky
over Manchester

peaceful as
despair, depression
or years of

as beer bottles in
the rusted grass
along forgotten roads
in Ohio.

Two Poems by Daniel Porder

Private Party

green lights zigzagged to guitar
and bass and people slow-danced
in the drunk dark and sipped Pepsi
and the floor sighed and trembled
when police lights blasted the windows
and sirens mutilated the music and I leaped
through the cracked back window
and dashed through a blue-red haze
to my room where I played solitaire
and ate sushi and sat perfectly still
to experimental jazz and sipped Pepsi
and slow-danced with my shadow

All Aboard

I pile your promises in the corner
like dirty clothes.
I sculpt the air into your scowl.
The clouds light up
a bloodshot red
and I stumble to my amplifier,
set the feedback higher
than our sealing eyes. My mouth
echoes with your name.
Dear vulpine smile drawn across lips:
join the coastguard now
and forever patrol my veins.

Under the roof of the Red Umbrella by Duane Kirby Jensen

We meet casually under the roof of the Red Umbrella,
waiting for musicians to loosen digits upon stringed instruments,
and give life to words that would waffle within strummed notes.
I looked at your plate of curried brie covered in sweet honey and crushed walnuts,
accentuated by a cluster of juicy red grapes and lightly salted crackers.
I asked which menu item this was,
you responded, with a slight gleeful giggle, that it was a custom order,
offering me a taste of honey and walnut and creamy cheese.
Conversation and wine followed,
I added a Mediterranean sampler to our quickly evolving picnic,
the musicians became an afterthought as our conversation become a song.
Hours slipped away and chairs were being stacked upon tables
before we realized it was time to leave.
We walked out from beneath the Red Umbrella, into the night of a full moon,
deep orange and as expansive as our expectations.
We walked through the park over looking Port Gardner Bay
which still shimmered within the pink afterglow of another fallen day.
We purchase minutes, the way children create excuse to stay up just a little longer,
even as we planned another day, to explore possibilities of days yet to be planned.

Howling with the Dawn by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

In some countries
I'd be locked away with madness
and medicated as the day is long,
but luckily I'm not in any of those countries
and the one I'm in at present

is not aware
of me.

Thirty poems a night
and wine until I can no longer see,

when I'm done I grab a knife
from the kitchen
and chop myself another 5am salad
for dinner
as the morning workers frequent
morning showers

and the sun
bleeds through the trees.

Oh Woof by Catfish McDaris

After visiting the gargoyles
of Montmartre, my lady
decided to shop

I stood outside smoking
a Gitane watching people,
a man approached & asked
if I wanted to screw his sister

I looked around, but saw no
sister, I replied no, he replied
how about my brother, he's
young & tight, I shook my head

Do you have a dog, I asked
the Frenchie looked appalled
fucking Americans, he said
walking away swiftly

My lady exited the shop,
she said did you make a
new friend, I said almost
dear almost.

Two Poems by Maxwell Baumbach

Friend or Faux-

less charismatic
poor man's version
of me

your poor attempts
and false beliefs
that you can
change the world
are so cute

in the
phony voice
you use
that varies by subject

it is almost
as counterfeit
as you

the words you
when I am
not around
carefully knit
a web
of your own shit

your web
is about
to hit the fan



I found the pictures
that you left
of your husband
who passed
with the cut out writing
on the back of it

I found the prayers
you jotted down
asking for blessings
on our family

I found the poems
that you snipped
from newspapers
and magazines

I found the articles
you kept
that pointed to the fact
you wished to leave


I have no doubt
that you are
smiling now
even though
you are gone

3 Poems by Donal Mahoney

Crackling Again

This brilliant winter morning finds
waves of snow on every lawn
and red graffiti dripping
from the walls
of Temple Mizpah
once again
as down the street
stroll ancient men
who every morning
shuffle here for prayer.

As usual, they're lost
inside old overcoats,
their collars up,
their scarves too long,
their yarmulkes,
as always,
in diffidence

This morning, though,
they don't go in.
They shuffle near the curb
like quail.
They can't believe
the goose-step scrawl
on every wall.
They know their world's
awry again, an encore
of the chaos left behind
when they were young.

The good thing is,
Chicago's better now
than was Berlin back then
even though the temple walls
make clear this morning that
someone's struck another match
and the ovens of Auschwitz
are crackling again.

Peace For Me Now

after Baghdad

On the table by the window
balanced on its spine

this leaflet
butterfly open

and still as a

Peace for me now
zephyr through leaflet.

Peace for me soon
caribou and snow,

loping caribou
and caribou reclining.

The Whole Thing Over With

From her side of the bed
the wife suggests he get dressed,
go out in the night and
purchase a piece. She’s

not in the mood. Or
if he must, he can
go ahead, stick it in,
shoot it off, and get

the whole thing over with.
She doesn’t care any more
where he pours it
so long as he’s quiet

and doesn’t wake the kids.
Too tired to dress,
he sticks it in, explodes,
rolls off, finally spent.

Maybe now the beasts
that will never creep
within his crosshairs
can get some sleep.

my car is hemorrhaging oil by Steve Calamars

and my brain is
coughing up words
reckless as
drunk cadillacs

i run down the girl
of my dreams and
reduce her love
to ink-blots

she loses her footing
on my freudian slips
dangerous as banana peels
and cracks her head open

instead of blood and brains
it's nothing but pinballs and pink air

she says i'm easy on the eyes
and rotten to the core

left alone with her thoughts
i wash her brain
only to end up dirtying her
mind with my words, bad habits
and body language

my smart remarks
are over her head
while her loaded questions
always miss the mark

you see
my car is hemorrhaging oil
and my brain

my brain is
coughing up words
reckless as
drunk cadillacs . . .

3 Poems by Adam Matcho

My Boss Used To Write

He would leave Post-it notes
all over the place.
Suspended yellow flags
on the bathroom door
reminding us to flush;

above the paperwork binders
when he had to whiteout
mathematical errors; on the whiteout
when it was used
excessively. I found a blue flap

on my nametag once, telling me
don’t forget to wear my nametag.
They were all mean and colorful
passive-aggressive reminders. Slaying the spirit
of the workplace with hot pink threats.

Notes when the dollars didn’t face
the same direction or when somebody left
the refrigerator open all night,
so the backroom smelled like spoiled milk.
And everyone who read them knew you fucked up.

If you accidentally stacked the lava lamps
without color-coding them first, you’d find
several sticky notes, each one a different color,
suggesting you follow the pattern
and stock the store right, next time.

It was always such a shock
to see them, their pointed language
and sharp penmanship, coming
from a guy who was so nice
when it was just you and him.

How To Take Out The Trash

Fill the garbage cart
until it is bloated
and unmanageable. Some
will spill, but it’s important
to only make one trip.

Try not to touch the trash
that’s green or moist. Roll the cart
slowly. You are getting paid.
Stop and collect the garbage
that falls from the sides.

Outside, look around. You
may not get to see
outside again. Slam
the cart into the dumpster.
Stare at the sky.

Light up. Lean
against the wall, watch
passing people and clouds.
Make money. Do something
with the garbage.

When the boss demands
answers, what took so long,
why your eyes are so red,
explain how the garbage
kept spilling from the sides.

Workplace Post-it Note #17

Dyslexic Llydia,

do not leave
the toilet paper roll
ever again

and when you hang
the new one
please don’t do so
in an underhanded fashion

even with
your disability
you wipe your ass
just like everyone else.

3 Poems by Ford Dagenham


she. didn’t. think. of. me.
(it is a crucial moment,
my hand is a dead creature
clutching a plastic and trivial phone
to a numb numb screaming head)
like. that’s. a reason!
(and some of me DIES.
Hello! corpse talking . . .
not this again!)
I said Silence
I said Tears
baby heart
into. my. dry. mouth.
(I am Jack Bauer’s understated face;
I react but the cut is framed tight and kept short,
I am Jacks rogue SUV
heading into LA suicide)
and now hanging my wet pants out on the airer
will never feel the same again.
she hung them out, just one time, in the light
from a sepia window.
on some softly stale weekday afternoon.


on the sofa.
by 4.30 pm.
another dozen episodes
of 24
(I am Jack Bauer’s unmade bed . . .)
endless row
whisky shots.
another list
of the dead comes out
the TV.
and mildly
I panic again
(without the old enthusiasm)
the Black Plague
and all the AIDS
growing in my beer fucked throat.
another pizza
I cannot afford
is delivered
by that
utter nerd,
that fucking life-happy kid from Dominos



I was going to go up to London town
going to drink and walk the streets there
get my misanthrope-on
then get out
before the
the end game must be at home
where its calm and its safe
I didn’t go anywhere at all
power napped
made sure
there was
a wide
range of

Muse by J. Bradley

I want someone to write me
a love poem. Until then,
I will not write another one.

I will write like poems
to the way Rosencrantz uses high fives
as punctuation, Rapunzel wishing
God wasn't watching when wanting
to let down her hair, to the white
Ford Escort swimming in the summer
toward a hotel room where we lost
our names.

I will slit open my wrists
and let the slow dances left
spill into them, use their sighs
like boyband slow jams
to coax chins into clavicles,
until they autograph the yearbook
of my neck.

I want someone to write me
a love poem because I can't
keep making rope out of scars.
I want these arms to stop
being rungs of ladders
that someone else climbs
to escape.

This isn't a challenge;
this is a wish I rub out
of empty bottles of Jameson
because I know when I'm in the room,
no one wants to crack me open
and watch me swoon.

It's why when you say I'm cute,
I don't believe you. When you say
I'm beautiful, I want to let you borrow
my glasses. When you say I'm amazing,
I feel my spine like a spellbook for the words
to undo your curse.

You're probably looking for catering
for the pity party but it's the truth.
I didn't believe I deserved
what I was worth. I loved
like a bruise. I know I cannot keep
coughing up goodbye like scabs.

I'm not waiting for someone
to write me a love poem;
I will wear dust like a tuxedo
if I do.

In The Studio by Ben Myers

from his great blog "I, Axl - An American Dream":

“You know if they dropped
the fucking bomb on the planet
and just levelled the place
and you were, like, the only survivor
and you’d be walking along
and at first you’d just see basic destruction,
like collapsed houses and sparking electrical cables
and shit, but as you keep on walking
you’d see, like bodies, scattered here and there,
and maybe they don’t look superficially damaged
but they’re dead alright, and you keep walking
and you see smoking shoes lying in the street,
and bodies, all bald and burnt and shit,
like charred down one side or something,
and everything would be
quiet except for the low whistle of a warm
nuclear wind blowing in from the east,
and then you start seeing more bodies,
piles of them, flesh ripped from their bones,
their eyeballs incinerated in their sockets,
their hands twisted and distorted, skulls
grimacing, rictus, the strangely sweet smell
of burning flesh everywhere, the sky dashed
with red hues, everything dead and useless,
gone and hollow, and you just stand there,
grabbing at your face, screaming, screaming
screaming into a void of nothingness.
OK? Well, that’s exactly how I want your
drum fill to sound, bro.”

Ben Myers' new novel RICHARD is out in the UK on October 1st through Picador.

LAUREN by Tony Colella

She's a beauty in brown bangs
floating far above old kingdoms,
whipper of those sands when
she flies to the earth beneath
her plane's wings and steps into
the summer of the queens,
coming home
from another world with a pack in
one hand, a brush in another
She'll flush out the stories of her
long-dead mothers. She says
she no longer wants this sun or
these sphinxes, she is ready
for conditioned white halls
beyond sandboxes. When she
builds, her blocks still mirror
the Niles overhead in the
beautiful days of Hatshepsut.

4 Poems by Ivan P.

~ ~ ~ ~

the sound of a thousand trains
shall not awaken a butterfly
that lost her mind somewhere
over the pacific
when mao composed
his first poems

~ ~ ~ ~

foreign words always full of bliss
and nasty meaning penetrate
dirty stars and wet pavement
in a town where
doleful mystery writers are born
every saturday and squirrels
silently laugh in the foliage

~ ~ ~ ~

dragonflies buried jesus
on saturn hiding the tears from
the void where the
rustle of
wings never ceases

~ ~ ~ ~

every tree forms a secret
wing every cheek yearns to
be smitten every eye longs
to see holy shit

As Pride Slips into Vanity by Ray Succre

Too much of a good thing.
Too many flags everywhere.

Two dozen of them flying in my view just now.
Fourteen across the port walkway, numerous others
on shirts, in windows, on truck bumpers…

The most colossal of flags,
the municipally official one,
waves about in the town square beside the port.
There may be more flags than people out, today.
The dozens of flags in my view just now…
Who is supposed to be convinced?
I know where I live.

What of the other flags that used to fly
atop this boardwalk? There was Japan, Brazil,
England, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Greece,
Russia… because there were more countries
mentioned in my own.


They were taken down for Independence Day two years ago,
those foreign flags, replaced with the stars and bars, all,
and never put back up along the port. It is November,
years later, and the U.S. flag is only.


The Death Of Food by Mike Meraz

the death of food
came to me
when I was 18
with the birth of a woman
wearing long hippie dresses,
Italian eyes,
with a love for white picket fences
and bad boys.
I never told you I was an over-eater.
in and out of despair
at age 15
with my head placed
on window glass
staring at my world
as it passed me by.
but now I have caught up,
grown up,
moved out.
I am slim,
with blue eyes
and dark hair.
I have made it!
but why do I still cry?

Three Poems by Jay-James May

To Summer.

A summer suicide note
May appear anywhere
At any time.

To keep the
World in check
To keep the
Conversation flowing.

You see,
We’re all shirts off
Leaning on
Standing on
Exhausted from the heat
And spitting
In the road.

We’re turning left
While aiming right.

Way Station.

Ghosts pass in hallways
And on this beach.

Where the sun reflects
Images of cells
Two nuclei.

Where I sit and reflect
On fear
And how to abandon it.

This beach is made of skulls,
Bones ascending,
From dead fish waters.

Rat-skin spines stem from
This beach.

Their branches hang
Like guilty men.


This is my Cuba.
The balcony,
My veranda
Overlooking the brown rooftops
Grey houses and
Tarmac lakes.

The kids are my ocean waves
Crashing against the cars
And electricity.

Our revolution
Will never come
Through words.

Two Poems by Kevin Barcellos

The Ex-Girlfriend

After six
and three
bowls of smoke
wearing an empty
box of Budweiser
as a helmet,
she jumped from
the trampoline
into my chest,
giving me an
ambulance ride
to the hospital,
seven staples
in my head,
and another
Lumbar disk.

Sandy Mush

Waiting for my
release from
this Merced
facility, I play
chess. And
on television
I watch "Cops
in San Antonio"
with my
while rolling
a joint with
the pages of
chapter twenty-five,
verses one
through four.

The Sensitive Machine by Shawn Misener

The body is a sensitive machine
susceptible to green neon muses
held together with holy glue
with the threshold of words
and images
and memories tossed backwards
like sopping wet notebooks

ghosts of giraffes inhabit my dreams
and I see them through the rear view
in my 1998 Ford Taurus

Driving over clay vases
inside of the cappuccino cafe:
I'm amazed there is room to drive


This is what happens
when you wake up at night

Your dreams have washed over
and off of your sensitive machine

That's why you shake your head,
sitting up at the end of the wet mattress


is a good, good thing

Though apparently
too much of it means you're depressed
and too little of it
means you're overstressed


My car has vanished
but I'm ordering a latte from a barista-
she doesn't know how to make one
so I jump the counter
and make it myself


the night through the window
the crackling of metallic mosquitoes

the slow wind and the distant highway

caravaggio by Paul Harrison

like some football hoolie
was a right fucking cunt
ran with the roman firm
in the early sixteen hundreds
reclaimed the human form
from a mincing
mannered seicento style
painted all those bible scenes
of martyrdom
hunger and sacrifice
caravaggio had a pair
and liked his trade rough
was dark, vernacular, queer
the critics said he was an evil cunt
though the collectors and patrons
had other ideas
darkness and light
light and shade
the last four years
of his thirty nine
were spent on the run
from assassins and cops
in 1606 he killed a man
with a single thrust to the groin
wounded a few including a screw
and a waiter who served him
bruised artichokes
even got himself
all fucked up
in a naples bar-room brawl
home and away
light and shade
come on cunts
at last
increasingly possessed
by death
and the radical real
he died in a pestilent, spanish shit hole
north of rome
and nothing
would ever be the same again
darkness and light, light and shade
they dont make artists
like that anymore
and it’s probably just as well

Control by Danila Botha

from her book "Got No Secrets" available at

I only have five minutes to go to the bathroom. I duck into the stall and role up my sleeves. I take the Swiss Army knife out of the back of my left shoe,
where it’s covered by my pants. I don’t remember how old I was the first time I cut myself. I was in my parents’ kitchen, and I was having a really bad day. I wanted to eat ice cream, but we didn’t have any. Plus, it would have made me really sick anyway—I’m allergic to dairy. I decided to be good and started
slicing one of those awful, healthy vegetables—I think it was a red pepper. I took a bite and it tasted like shit, so I figured it had to be good for me. I was
concentrating on the taste, wondering if I should’ve just taken a multi-vitamin instead, when I accidentally sliced my fucking palm open. It was so gross. I
spread my fingers open in front of me. I bled all over and didn’t even feel it. The blood spilled onto the white counter and I stared at it for at least a
minute. I ran into the bathroom, grabbed a towel and held it there. I applied pressure to the wound, cleaned it with iodine, and put a couple of Band-Aids
over it.

I felt so good—I’d made a mess that I’d managed to clean up. I had taken care of myself and the situation. I didn’t even feel the pain—so I just kept doing
it. I have scars up and down my arms now—puffy red lines that poke out of the flesh, scabs that have no desire to heal. I’m young—I bet they’d heal
eventually if I just gave them a chance. Maybe one day. My legs look fucked up, too, because I went through a burning phase. I threw hot oil from a frying
pan onto my thighs for a couple of months. It hurt like hell so I didn’t do it for long. People used to say my legs were my best feature. I never saw it. But
now there’s something beautiful about them—like I decided how they’d look, like I’m in control.

I cut myself every day, sometimes twice or even three times a day if I have a lot of stress. It gives me a release like nothing else. It helps me feel real, brings my anxieties and fears down to earth—it makes me feel like I’m taking all the shit I feel on the inside and putting it in a place I can see it, so I never forget it. If someone hurts me, I never forget it now. If a guy betrays me, even if I try to forget, my body will always have the scar.

Old News by Zach King-Smith

she use to talk about
the man she was with before
me whenever the past came up
& i would listen all the while
the name sent flames up & down
my spine but the history of love
is in all the details so i held
her hand and let her talk my brain
rattled in hatred and in fear the days
since she left and the bad dreams have
turned into dust the radio plays infinitely
sad music but i'm ready & waiting for the next
trainwreck but the thought does come when the
empty feeling of night settles in--does she talk of
me with him?

Show Illness by Colin Dardis

Sitting cross-legged
in bed
waiting for the vomit to come.
I hope it is high-class vomit,
undisputed calibre of disease
that traders will offer me
a high penny for.

I will take that penny
and throw it away,
so that in starvation
and loneliness
further vomit will come.

Then I will return
to the traders,
and they will say,
‘but this is just like your last vomit,
we don’t want any of this’.
And having lost their interest,
I’ll turn away, penniless
and then I will truly be sick.

Two Poems by Rob Plath

flip your zippo, bitch & shut up

recently i read an article
about quitting smoking

one of the methods
they listed to combat
the habit
was to wear a rubberband
around your wrist
& snap it each time
you feel an urge to smoke


better yet--
slap your face
tell yourself:
'hang tough; don't puff'

how about continuing
smoking & when you get
paranoid about your health
& attempt abstaining
you snap a tourniquet
that's around your arm
& say "at least i'm not
shooting smack"

or better yet--
punch yourself in the face
& say: 'drag or no drag
one day you'll wear a toe tag'

quit graffiting tombstones w/bullshit

people aren't blank slates
when they're born
happily waiting to be filled up

rather they are wordless
tombstones pushed out of
the womb

mothers cradling
yet another grave-marker
in a birth blanket

not a chalkboard to be filled
w/formulas & philosophy
w/human horseshit

rather bloody
howling gravestones

& they spend their
lives slowly chiseling
their dumb names
into the slab

like they know
who they really are
what they really are

& maybe some etch
a cheap epitaph
a bald-face fabrication

& lies is fucking right
a rather appropriate verb


row after row of

nobody ever writes
the truth:



& what will yrs say reader?

will you go down
into the ground
w/the rest
of the make-believe meat

a mute slab

Two Poems by Doug Draime

Dream From Motel 6

Drunk, and having no memory
how I got there:
the only passenger
in a front seat of an
out of control Greyhound bus

A 300 pound man suppose to be driving
black hair slicked back
dressed in an Elvis
blue sequined jumpsuit
and with white boots
slumped/ passed out
or dead
over the steering wheel
which was
bouncing in tiny zigzag patterns
pressed with the weight of his body
speeding down
Market street
headed pell mell
for the Wharf and
off and over the end
the Pacific devouring
me, the Elvis impersonator
and the 5 ton machine

When I woke up
I was drenched in sweat
and there were
skid marks
from my feet
deep into the mattress
but I was alive, and ravenously
hungry for deep fried shrimp,
cole slaw and several
ice cold beers

For All The Fakes, Flakes, Lairs, Betrayers,
And Ball-less Wonders Over The Last 40
Years In The Small Press

My heart
forgives you
finger ( now
dead or
I am
to say
has a
of its

Three Poems by Shannon Peil‏


rolled to the ceiling
my eyes locked up -- frozen
my head cramps up
it's hard to walk around
with so much bullshit
crammed in there
half-written poems
your birthday
it's a wonder
there's any room left
for anything else

'tuesday mornings'

my old neighbor
[60's, leather skinned]
lived in a house across
the way

he built himself
[on the side of his property]
a garage and filled it
with cars

he said, 'junior -'
[he always called me that]
'junior there's not much in life
besides contentment'

and he said this
[as an old bachelor]
after his kids and ex-wife left
years ago

'you can find a number in the paper,'
[the Westword, I think]
'and if you call on a work day
it's cheap'

their cars would park, Tuesday morning
[out front, facing my house]
and a little asian would go in
then leave

and he'd come out front
[Marlb red and a Coors in hand]
and smile across the way at me
just content.


You letting me do it
wasn't actually as surprising
as how well it fit. It
was like your belly sucked
my hand up there, felt like
I was wrist-deep in a jelly
fish and it was grand. I
felt that hard ball of cervix
protesting my presence and
I wrapped my fingers around
it and tugged it out of
your hole to put it in a
jar in my fridge and you
asked for a glass of water
and told me to wash my
sheets tomorrow.

Three Poems by Donal Mahoney

A Southern Girl’s, Uncoiling

Whenever I mention you,
the doctor always asks
what do I see,

now that you’re gone,
when I think of you.
I say I see thighs,

tanned and gleaming,
kissed by the proper
Bonwit skirt, rising

through the terminal
toward me and above
your thighs

that smile,
a Southern girl’s,

Harvesting Pumpkins

From villages in Iowa,
Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska
and from towns in the Dakotas,
Wisconsin and Michigan,
there stream to Chicago in spring
parades of lithe girls
looking for boys
who will look at them.

But they find instead
men who will wine them
through summer,
who will wait until fall
to thresh in the fields
one summer can ripen,

men who will watch
till a pumpkin falls from the vine.
This is the courtship
village girls dream about,
laugh about, hope for.
Come fall, these are the men

who will fill the silos of girls
from Elkhart and Davenport.
Ely and other small places,
lithe girls who in spring
come to Chicago looking for boys
who will look at them
but who find instead
the reapers, the men.

Women Who Walk Like Men

They seem to be everywhere now,
women who walk like men.
With hair cropped in a paint brush,
bullets for eyes and knives for noses,
they walk long halls, hips so still
they can have no pelvis.
Then one day you meet one
and become her friend.
A week later you still wonder:
Are all the women who walk like men
wildflowers, really,
locked in a hothouse, craving the sun?

Two Poems by Joseph Hargraves


I was not
ordinary enough
for him
to love

is there
in that?


he said
"you're immature
and afraid
of intimacy"


I told him
of Browning's
elective affinities

"not to love
is to condemn
I said

he understood
Elizabeth 's laudanum
but not
Robert's theory

I suppose
he wanted
the art
student type:


he could
and comb


among a crowd of tourists
in a basement
I looked at
Monet's "Water Lilies"

fluorescent light
yellow whispering faces

I wondered
what was wrong
with me:

if anyone else
the paintings resembled wallpaper

this morning
eating breakfast
in the hotel dining room

a young woman asked
my opinion
of the "Monet Salle"

I told her about
a prettily papered crypt

"it was just your mood"
she said
leaving the table

isn't it always?

Three Poems by Justin Hyde

the ex shylock for the hells angels

shows me a ring
special made
in the black hills:

two oak leaves
represent he and his wife
three acorns
their children
(two they had together)
the oldest
was hers
from a previous marriage
but he raised him
as his own
from the age of three.

says the oldest
stopped talking to him
after he went to prison.

"told his mom
he didn't want to chance
getting abandoned by me again
guess i understand
but it hurts,"
he says
and tells me
he sends him letters
that go unreturned.

"he's got a house
on the east side
i walk up
put the letters
in the mailbox
but don't have the balls
to knock on his door,
imagine that
grown man
afraid to knock
on a door."

i tell him
it cuts
both ways

how i haven't spoken
to my father
in over a year

i dial the number

but always
chicken out
after the
first ring.

smoke break at the work release facility

she uses me
i know it
she knows it too
usually comes around
when her latest boyfriend
runs out of dope
or kicks her out
we got a daughter together
guess that's what
keeps her in my heart
some stupid hope
we'll both turn a corner
have something like
little house on the prairie
you know?
he says
lighting another

drinking in my father's bar

i knew
you was joe's son
way you
hold that beer bottle
like you're
making love to it,
says ron
a thin red head
with a toucan

shoot pool
like your old man

shoots pool
like my dad.

he's the
best stick around. where
is the old buzzard

don't know
haven't spoken to him
in over a year.
forever really.

he was always
bragin on you
about that bike racing
he was awful

i suppose.

suppose nothing,
he says
and buys us
a shot of black velvet.

then another.

then he
turns around
whistles through his fingers
and bellows:

we got
family tonight
this here's
joe's son.

Two Poems by Steve Calamars

from his poetry chapbook, American Violence, available at New Polish Beat.

death is harmless

it’s life you
have to watch

it’ll creep up
behind you and
slip a job around
your neck
like a noose

it’ll pull your
youth out from
under you
like a trap door

and leave you swinging
in a slow suburban strangle

by the time
you’re aware
of what’s happened

you’ll be too old
to give a shit

truth is

i’m a criminal
at heart

trapped in a

clip-boards and
blue-suits are
unnatural things

i’d feel more
comfortable with
a ski-mask
and 9mm

tossing bullets
like baseballs

instead of dodging
pot-shots from
time-clocks and

Days After The Game by David S. Pointer

-For The Post Katrina
Folks in New Orleans

I pass a
prosthetics clinic-
later high kickers
caught on a dance
stage not leading
to Hollywood, I
think about an
elderly printer
proud of his policy
of not printing any
political poetry for
nearly 40 years
while Eli, Indy's
MVP Peyton and
The New Orleans
Saints all have
Super Bowl rings
as proud papa/ex-
quarterback Archie
Manning inherits
the earth under
NFL football

I'll Be Honest With You Simon by Mike Fitzgerald

always to the side

Limboed by Joanna Valente

His wife didn't like to go out on Friday nights,
It made things awkward between them.
She would paint her face on, her face older
than her body, swaying sometimes, her head.
There was a goodness

in her hair still. He would tell her to put it up,
like an upside down root praying to go back
home beneath the earth. She preferred Saturdays,
sometimes Sunday afternoons looking at pictures
of her father, hundreds dying before

him and after him. She touches her stingy belly, with its
stretch marks running untamed. She is disgusted, outwitted
by them and almost remembers what it was like in
the womb. Before she was a girl, she remembers when
yearning wasn't the only way.

Ten Tip Top Tips to Becoming a Writer by Joseph Ridgwell

1. Do not, under any circumstances, attend a creative
writing course, retreat, or evening class. These are for
mentally disturbed people, whose close proximity may
cause you to become depressed.

2. Read like a mother-fucker. Anything from advanced
Arithmetic to Astrophysics. Read all the greats of literature
as they will teach you a good deal. Do not read any current
bestsellers. This type of book can do serious damage to the
creative soul of any budding artist.

3. Do not listen to the opinions of anyone who works in the
publishing industry. These freaks don’t know what the fuck
they are doing. They must be ignored at all times and often
derided for their stunning ignorance of what constitutes a
writer. This includes all editors, literary agents, slush-pile
flunkies, and the PA girl whose father is rich and her
mother good-looking, but is as thick as two short planks.

4. Never ever plagiarise, but do steal. Theft in literature is
a virtue.

5. Write every single day for a solid ten years. After that do
what the fuck you like.

6. Do not expect to earn any money whatsoever.
Harbouring such a delusion can only end in tears.

7. Do not be overly influenced by any writer you may or
may not admire, including me, in fact especially me. This
will lead to imitation, which is to be avoided at all costs.

8. Be afraid, very afraid of academics and academia. This is
a one way route to complete and utter failure as an
artist. Thou hast been warned.

9. Live a little. Travel the world, get out of the comfort
zone, take a trip to the edge, shoot a man in reno,
consume a mountain of drugs, get boozy all the time, as
drink brings luck to a writer, take part in an orgy, fuck both
sexes in the arse, howl at the moon, one arm waving free,
the other holding a bottle of wine, swim naked in the
ocean, go dancing, sleep out under the stars, go a
wandering, climb a volcano, sing rebel songs into the long-
lost night, watch a sunrise, sunset, cloud view… Get the
freaking idea, fuckers?

10. Last, but not least. Don’t try.

Joseph Ridgwell can be found here:

ASTROLOGY by Russell Streur

The moon is new
In the house of a blind woman
Lisa says in soft lament
gazing at the sky tonight
There’s no hiding

The bottom of the world
Is abandoned to eclipse
The Hour of Judgment
Passes into Saturn’s cusp
Planets are colliding

It all means trouble
Corpses in the forest
Trucks of kerosene exploding
Riots in Cathedral Square
Bangkoks of calamity

We’re in for sorrow
Equatorial dislocation
Days of fasting
Spiders at the bottom of the cup
And general anxiety

Rasputins guide these stars
The roof is caving in
The fallout in the fans
Is one part fire
One part flood

Lisa says
It’s a lousy time to make vacation plans—
On this road to Armageddon
The tollbooth is expecting blood.

Two Poems by Ross Vassilev

a friend of the poor

Frankie Yale was
the biggest mobster
in New York in the 1920s
made a fortune from

he was old school:
gambling, etc.

he wasn't no pimp
or drug pusher

he gave food
and money
to the poor when
they needed it

he wasn't like all those
and patriots
who think the poor
are lazy and

you needed help--
he gave it

and when his old friend
Al Capone had him
gunned down
and the car crashed
some family's Bar Mitzvah

he got one of the biggest
funerals in New York's

all the poor came out
and there was a million
dollars worth of
flowery wreaths

they don't make 'em like that

no shit

I have dreams like
being in Russia
amid all the poverty that
Gorby and Yeltsin and
the rest of the asshole
traitorous Right created
it's often so realistic
I wake up feeling sick

or I dream that I'm
wandering in some strange
place and there's other
people there but they
ignore me and I ignore
them (dreams imitating life)

or this town is a raging
inferno and the flames are
kissing the night sky
and when all the white trash
have been burned alive
and there's nothing left
of the this shitty little town
Satan puts out the flames
by pissing on them.

I guess I must be crazy.

Mytholmroyd Haikus by Adelle Stripe

from her collection "Cigarettes In Bed" available from Blackheath Books.


this is my cradle;
asleep in your warm chest hair
your heartbeat a lullaby


the sun hides behind
st.john in the wilderness
our lips taste the hot raindrops


the fading confetti sticks
to the wet stone walls
like fallen apple blossom


palms sticky from pine resin
the transparent moon
sucks the light from my fingers


cycling in the morning sun
the sweet smell of popping plants
hang in the june air


nick from the lawnmower shop
is always cheerful
behind the counter

whistling, trilling
singing old songs

(usually tony bennett songs)

"i left my heart
in san francisco..."

and when he talks
to the customers, there's a pleasant lilt
in his voice

a rolling beautiful
wave of vowels

i have never known him
to be in anything but his normal

"it don't mean a thing if you ain't got that

it doesn't seem to bother nick
that he has to listen to the same
being played on an endless loop
all day long

or that he hasn't gotten a raise in three years

or that half his customers
are liars, cheats, swindlers, cheapskates...

he treats them all equally
and with a smile

and goes on singing

"grab your coat
and get your hat... leave your
worries on the

"the best is yet to come and, babe, won't
it be fine..."

i asked one of nick's regular
what he thought of it all
and he may have been right

"don't worry," he said, "everyone's got a dark
nick probably goes home to his apartment
every night
and wears woman's underwear
and a hat
of human

an afterthought by Kevin Coons

I don't even bother hanging up the phone, I just let it linger.
The synapses in my brain lose their signal and suddenly, I am a dial tone.

I'm sitting on my bed alone in bare feet.
I look out the window and the world keeps rolling over.
I start to remember something my father once told me.

Down the stairs, and out the door,
I settle behind the wheel and exhale

"you can't control the shit this world piles on you
-only how you carry it "

I ease down the road and out
into the fog.

rothko by Paul Harrison


An Unfinished Story Of Lust And Sorrow - Part 2 by Aline Rahbany

It is always at night, that they find refuge in each others’ arms. Late night, way after dark – when the
crowds have slept, and the stage has emptied, and the only remaining noise was that of the heavy rain,
and the only remaining sight was that of the lightning.

They lay side by side, on his bed, staring by the window, into the dark night. He was not much of a
speaker this eve. And she was enjoying his sound of silence.

As they lay speechless, once again she started having the same old thoughts – is he real? Or is it the
illusion of reality, playing tricks on her na├»ve mind? Again, she could never tell … She tried touching him;
she laid her fingers on that sweet flesh lying beside her. Flesh is there. She ran her fingers all over his
body, reaching his face.

Laying her fingers on his lips, she tried speaking to him. “Don’t wake me up”, he said, “I am in trance."
This left her puzzled. She laid back, surrendering her ideas, giving in, for the goddess of delusion to sail
her across the ocean of hollowness.

As she closed her eyes, and entered the realm of reverie – the few seconds when the person is neither
awake nor asleep – she felt his hand caressing her face, gently. She heard words being mumbled in her
ear, but she couldn’t understand the language. Somehow, she felt the words were not addressing her.
Somehow she felt alone, and yet surrounded by a powerful shade of humanity. Why does he always reveal
himself in her moments of weakness? Why does he disappear when she is in a state of wakefulness? Could it be
he is living in her mind? Could it be he is a creation of her bitter imagination?

Conceding to her confusion, she opens her eyes to see herself in her own bed – twisting and turning …
“where are you?” she screams. The only answer she receives is the echo of her own voice, on the sound
of which, she submits her fragile body back to sleep, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.

Specter by Ally Malinenko

-for Michele and Kristen

I was mistaken for dead for a couple hours
by some old friends.
They wrote me to tell me they cried.
But during that time, when I was thought a phantom,
I floated through Sunset Park
whispering in the ears of the Mexican’s selling empanadas.
They understood me because everyone speaks the language of the dead.

I teased the Chinese kids on 8th Avenue who ignored me
because ghost or no ghost
the number 8 is still lucky.
I possessed the old Russian women down by the ocean,
who crossed themselves and hid in the church begging for Jesus.

And I did a high wire act, across the thick cables of the Brooklyn bridge.
These are the kinds of things you can get away with when you are dead.
I even haunted you, as you wondered mid-town wondering
whatever happened to that girl you used to know.

But when I wrote them back
to tell them to dry their tears,
that I was still in fact pumping blood
and bloated lungs, that I was still dividing cells
and mostly water,
I fell back to earth, with an astonishing crack.

This is what death can be like.
You can vanish, go invisible, and not even know it.
Take advantage of that time, if you are so lucky,
the city will open her secrets for you,
and let you linger in the darkest corners of Brooklyn.
Ghosts don’t have to worry about fear or chain locks.
Ghosts can pass right through
your walls and sit across from you,
watching you fall apart.

That’s what I did.
And you never even noticed.

Hand-Job by Joseph Ridgwell

his debut collection of short fiction, Oswald's Apartment, is now available from Blackheath Books.

On his return Moshi told me the story like this. I was lying on a bamboo bed inside a
yellow beach hut. We were in Bali. The sound of the ocean’s roar could be heard
outside. I liked that sound.
‘Did ya find a massage parlour?’ I asked.
Moshi gave me a sheepish look, ‘I just had a very strange experience,’ he
replied somewhat enigmatically.
‘Tell me everything,’ I demanded
‘Okay, but promise you won’t repeat what I’m about to tell you to anyone. I
Now I was genuinely interested and more than a little intrigued.
‘I promise?’
A troubled look appeared on Moshi’s suntanned face.
‘I searched all over for a massage parlour, but couldn’t find one anywhere.
Then I saw it.’
‘Saw what?’
‘The sign?’
‘The sign?’
‘The words, Traditional Balinese Massage, were painted on it in white letters.’
‘Inside was this ancient Balinese woman.’
‘How much?’
‘Five dollars.’
‘Yeah, and I’m thinking this elderly lady must have decades of experience, is
certain to give me a traditional massage, but I was sadly mistaken.’
‘Sadly mistaken?’
‘She takes my top off and gets me to lie on the floor. And she hasn’t got any
teeth and her lips and gums are covered in this red shit, and she smelled.’
‘She pours some oil onto my stomach and starts rubbing, I mean she must
have been around eighty years old....’
I raised a questioning eyebrow.
By now Moshi was no longer maintaining eye contact.
‘The dirty old cunt slipped a hand inside my shorts!’
‘What the fuck?’
‘I didn’t know what to do or how to react.’
‘So you stopped her, right?’
‘No, I just closed my eyes and let the wrinkled up bitch do it.’
‘Shit,’ I said.
Moshi scratched his head and appeared puzzled.
‘And afterwards she demanded thirty dollars instead of five.’
‘Fuck,’ I said.

Two Poems by Justin Hyde

swimming with unicorns

the kenyans will win marathons
the yellow lines in parking lots will be repainted
the bright eyed infantry will
take night classes to get their mbas
and become six sigma black belts
limbs will be severed in industrial accidents
foster children will be
raped in rooms full of potpourri and stuffed animals
pelicans will drown in oil spills
midgets will commit suicide amidst confetti
but the shelves will always be stocked with marshmallows
and chances are
you will float through this life
like a pink moon.

sure as this

the history books
may or may not
include you


hardly anyone
history books


the few
who do
discuss it among themselves
at superfluous conventions

or on various
esoteric internet forums

or in passing
to their wives:

those dull eyed creatures
nodding slowly out of habit
while planning the purchase of a Coach purse
or some other

exhausted earthling by Steve Calamars

tired of the planet
my finger falls asleep
on a hair-trigger

a bullet rolls down
the barrel and crashes
thru my brain cells
like bowling pins

my head snaps back
and the revolver drops

the last thing
i see is an empty
white ceiling

radiant as a
neutron star

The Corner of Wells and Madison by Donal Mahoney

I know that if I ever
fall in the street
the way that man did,
in the middle of an intersection,
someone will mind.
But if unlike that man
I make it
to the other side,
scale the curb and
mount the sidewalk
and then fall,
no one will have to
drive around me.
There will be no extra noise.
There will be only the usual honking.
People walking by
will have to watch their step, true.
But this is Chicago:
No one can blame me for that.

Two Poems by Mike Meraz


she always told me to wave.

"it's good to wave at the people
in the old folks home,"
she said.

so we waved.

me, half-heartedly,
her with a smile
that could light up
the darkest hell.

and as we walked,
we talked about the demise
of our relationship

but at that moment
it was all worth while.

at least we made
some people smile.

Light Moments

light moments between people.
I catch these every day.
"I fix cars," he said, "now get out of here."
"and I fix you," she said with an adorable smile.
how cute, I thought, how sweet,
that moment, that snap shot of love.

like the time I held her in my arms
and she looked up at me and said,
"so this is what love is."

or the time I lay on the floor half-asleep
and she woke up and asked,
"Michael, where are you?"
then she spotted me on the floor and said,
"oh good, there you are."

these are moments I remember.
although if I think of the consumption of time,
I become depressed.

it is these moments that make me happy,
and in a strange way,
give me hope.

Two Poems by Doug Draime

2 p.m.

He said he’d lost his mind
many years before
and that he was still looking
for it in all the same, insane places
He pushed the small pitcher
of beer he’d bought me closer
I poured a glass and held it up
for a toast, to bums and poets,
I said, touching his double shot of
Jim Beam with my glass of draft
He made a face. “I don’t know about
poets, fuck poets, but here’s
to bums who have lost their minds.”

Homeless Sellout With A PO Box

The odds were
against me, maybe
100 to 1
that they’d accept
any of the poems
I sent. Then one day
in my PO Box
a check for $25 and a note
saying they were
going to publish
one. The worst
one I submitted. But then,
what the hell
do I know
about poetry? I still think
Rod Mc Kuen
is a better poet than
John Ashbery. And Bob Dylan
has said more in one song than
William Carlos Williams said
in his entire
writing career. So, they were
publishing one of my poems,
one I didn’t
like much,
in their corporate magazine ...
with their large board of directors.
Well, I cashed their check, bought the
first real meal I’d had
in several days
and sent them some more crap.

The New Siberia Is the Old Siberia by Kyle Hemmings

If Hitler came down
with Swine Flu,
or Margaret Truman
discovered spiders
beyond the 38th parallel
of her sheets
I wouldn’t take a Glock
aim for the hamstrings
of history professors
denying their personal gulags
the rotting teeth of their wives
from too many chocolate truffles
and the mistresses
bedding any stranger
claiming to be a Trotskyite
from the old block,
never missing a chance
to cause a revolution
on crutches
making a scene
in Finnish train stations
under closely watched clocks.

All of These People Should Die Fucking Losers by xTx

It’s a radio
played all day
for dogs

How the girl
believes it’s important
to be only

The skinned sleeve
of the boy
with the lion

A wrestling
before every prince
taking me down

Two Poems by Joseph Hargraves


When I told you I was working
on a new poem- you asked: “Is it
about me?” Antecedent receding.
Jesus cursed the fig tree when
it didn’t bear him fruit. This is
a threat. Foregone conclusions
of your status change daily. I’m
a crooked and crazy behaviorist,
with a nihilist bent. You want the
word made flesh. As a doctor, I
will no longer count your T-cells
or ambivalence. You’ve mis-
calculated figures, with me as a
constant value. This is basic
math; because you refuse to hear
the colloquial phrase: “Get lost.”


We whistle violent tunes,
eat spotted crab-meat, savor
the burn of Wild Turkey.
Timid Shirley twitches as
wincing tweezers start
pulling back the skin of her
coded, antiseptic silence.
Stunned: bones, sinew, tendons
snap and tear in syncopation
with our angry pulses.

We hot-wire a banged-up
Corvette with a crooked
engine and flaked paint.
She drives. I’m here for
the ride; until the silver
highway ends in a desert.

Loaded, we climb out
of the wreck. Feet push
hot sand. Silent, we
notice the alcohol
has stolen our clothes.
Naked, we shake to rhythmic
waves of heat. Taut skin
goose-bumps to the beat
of pounding eardrums.

Without having moved,
rivulets of sweat run
between us. Her weight
starts the motion. No
smiles. Bodies shift.
Hesitant lips glide up
my neck. Fingertips trace
the arch of her spine.
Brines mix and drip from
joyous wool. Nothing
depends on this moment.


About Me

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